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Warning On Office 2007 "Try-Before-You-Buy"

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the don't-get-fooled-again dept.

Microsoft 380

walterbyrd writes with a warning: "Microsoft is pushing Office 2007 with 'try-before-you-buy.' Please don't let your friends and relatives install Microsoft 'trial' software. When Microsoft tells you 'try-before-you-buy,' the 'buy' part is not meant to be an option. Once you 'try' a Microsoft 'upgrade' you can not easily go back, because your files will be replaced by new versions that you need the new software to read." The ChannelRegister article also notes how Microsoft's push goes against the grain of the consumer revolt against "crapware." Read on for an account of walterbyrd's experience with a previous Microsoft trial upgrade.
I remember when my brother-in-law decided to try Office-2003. It was a complete mess. I didn't think I'd ever get it fixed. Here is the story:

Office-2003 installed over his Office-2000. His Outlook-2000 email was reformatted to the new-and-improved Outlook-2003. And Outlook-2003 format is incompatible with everything except Outlook-2003. So when his trial period was over, he could no longer access his email — unless he wanted to buy Office-2003.

Of course, I could not fully remove the "trial" version of Office-2003. Once Office-2003 has been installed, it can not overwritten with an earlier version of Office. Also, you cannot remove Office-2003 and re-install Office-2000, unless you know how to hack the registry. And you can not easily install Office-2000 and Office-2003 on the same PC.

What I eventually did to correct the situation:

- Signed up for my own trial version of Office-2003
- Used my trial version to import my brother-in-law's email file
- Saved my brother-in-law's email in another format
- Backed up his data
- Wiped his HDD
- Restored everything

In fairness, I have not used the trial version of Office-2007. But, after my experience with the trial version of Office-2003, I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. Please make sure your friends don't touch it either.

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prompt? (4, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864079)

when you go to save over a doc with a newer version it prompts you. it's not MS's fault if your too spastic to read what it says.

M. Webster's Explains (5, Funny)

soloport (312487) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864117)

trial
Function: noun
Etymology: Anglo-French, from trier to try
3: a test of faith, patience, or stamina through subjection to suffering or temptation; broadly : a source of vexation or annoyance

Re:M. Webster's Explains (5, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864163)

why would you think if you save over your document in one format, uninstalling said program would roll back your files as well?

Re:M. Webster's Explains (4, Insightful)

ben there... (946946) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864341)

why would you think if you save over your document in one format, uninstalling said program would roll back your files as well?

You'd think that something as important as a "standard" document format wouldn't change enough to become incompatible every 1-4 years.

Re:M. Webster's Explains (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864535)

Oh give me a break! how can you add new features to a product without changing the format, and rending it unreadable by OLD software? XML goes some way to fixing this by having the document itself contain the information on how to read it, as does PDF, that still has it's limit's when it comes time to update XML (already has been an issue in the past with PDF).

i bet the first open office release isn't capable of opening the latest? oh the HORROR! evil open office lets bash them!

Re:M. Webster's Explains (5, Funny)

smookumy (1121273) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864597)

Yeah, you're right. The bastards lock me into their upgrade cycle.. every 5 years I have to write a cheque for 0 dollars. /The bastards/

Re:M. Webster's Explains (4, Insightful)

ben there... (946946) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864635)

Oh give me a break! how can you add new features to a product without changing the format, and rending it unreadable by OLD software?

Can you open an XHTML 1.0 web page designed now in an HTML 3.2 browser from 1997 (10 years ago)? Yes, you usually can.

Any "standard" document format should never become unreadable by old software.

i bet the first open office release isn't capable of opening the latest? oh the HORROR! evil open office lets bash them!

I'm not a user of OpenOffice, so I won't comment on that. But I've never had a problem opening TXT or RTF or HTML or PDF. I look forward to the day when the most common rich word processing format is also the most compatible.

Re:M. Webster's Explains (2)

chawly (750383) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864413)

I might think that the roll-back would happen if I "tried" the new format in question and didn't like it. For me, a trial implies that I can try the product - and, if I don't like it, I can return to the previous format.

Try before you buy means (at least for me) that you can try for free and only buy if you are convinced of the worthiness of the product. If the seller fails to convince, he is in honour bound to restore the previous status (at least according to my reading of the phrase).

Perhaps my mistake is in using the word "honour" in this context ? Microsoft's rules (I have come painfully to realize) are maybe a little different the ones I was brought up to respect.

Re:M. Webster's Explains (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864513)

I'm not MS lover by any means, but the problems you speak of aren't specific to office - it could just as easily happen with open office documents so it's wrong to demonise MS for it. This isn't some neferious attempt to ruin your office files.

Re:M. Webster's Explains (1)

smookumy (1121273) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864617)

The problem isn't whether it happens or not. The problem is that once you've made the mistake, the only solution with MS Office is to pay your way out.

Re:M. Webster's Explains (2, Insightful)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864559)

why would you think if you save over your document in one format, uninstalling said program would roll back your files as well?


As somebody who has done consumer level tech support, I NEVER make these assumptions, and neither should Microsoft. I would (like) to think that Microsoft would set the default save file method to be that of the previous Office Suite installed. It would make sense for trial software. Or at the least have a warning for the naive user that there newly saved files are not backward compatible. A simple patch could be added if Office 2007 was purchased. This seems to be an oversight at the least, and a marketing faux pas at the most.

Re:prompt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864131)

Somehow you speak Microsoft?

Because not every prompt that Microsoft software is so easily deciphered by the average human being.

It isn't as cut and dry as you make it out to be.

Re:prompt? (1)

Lord Naughty (957853) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864177)

Does the save prompt indicate that the new (trial) format is incompatible with old versions? If it doesn't, then it is MS's fault again.

Re:prompt? (4, Informative)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864193)

"His Outlook-2000 email was reformatted to the new-and-improved Outlook-2003. And Outlook-2003 format is incompatible with everything except Outlook-2003. So when his trial period was over, he could no longer access his email -- unless he wanted to buy Office-2003"

Re:prompt? (2, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864217)

Not that anyone should be surprised, but you didn't even read the summary. This guy's account is that it changed his files without prompting... in the case specifically described, it was the user's Outlook database, not his word docs.

"Spastic"? How about trigger-happy?

Re:prompt? (1)

taoman1 (1050536) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864349)

The only thing wrong with the summary is all of it. The trial version does NOT do that.

Re:prompt? (1)

fishyfool (854019) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864533)

You really don't know Microsoft's products. The trial DOES do that.

Re:prompt? (1)

taoman1 (1050536) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864681)

Well, that's contrary to MY experience. Make of that what you will.

Re:prompt? (4, Informative)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864219)

If you're just talking about the new .*x formats (.docx, .xlsx), you actively have to work at converting your old files to the new format. If you open an old .doc or .xls in Word 2007 or Excel 2007 and then try to save it, the document will continue to use the old format. New documents will save in the new format, and you can convert your old documents to the new format, but it's not done automatically.

That said, the linked article is not even talking about any of that at all. It's simply pointing out that some new PCs are now shipping with trial versions of Office 2007, and says nothing about any difficulties of downgrading to an older version. The submitter's summary and story have absolutely nothing to do with the linked article, and are based on issues with a version of Office 4 years and 2 versions older than what's currently available.

Outlook pst conversion is a different story, but I think the submitter went about it in a strange way. Outlook allows you to export and import your data in many different formats, so I don't understand why he had to install his own copy of the trial just to export some data. More importantly, why would you risk important data without a backup when trialling software that you're not 100% sure you want to keep? That's just bad practice with anything, not just Microsoft products.

Re:prompt? (1, Interesting)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864567)

>>Outlook allows you to export and import your data in many different formats, so I don't understand why he had to install his own copy of the trial just to export some data.

Because my brother-in-law waited until his trial period was over. At which time he could not access Outlook at all.

But, you are right: if my brother-in-law had saved to a different format before his trial period ended, he would have saved me a lot of work. What could I say? My mother's even worse.

Re:prompt? (-1, Flamebait)

Anomolous Cowturd (190524) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864647)

Is your brother-in-law still using windows? Then you've done him more harm than good, with your "lots of work".

I'm starting to think we shouldn't be rescuing people from their windows problems. Let them get burned and stay burned, it will do them good in the long run.

Be cruel to be kind, spare the rod spoil the child, first: do no harm, that sort of thing...

Re:prompt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864253)

From the looks of it, Microsoft is throwing considerable ?weight? behind Office 2007 after years of sluggish customer upgrades to new versions of its Office suite. Application, data and workflow integration with Microsoft?s server software like SQL Server and SharePoint, make Office 2007 one of the most ?important? new Offices releases for a company that's pushing the ideas of information worker and ?collaboration.?

Re:prompt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864279)

"it's not MS's fault if your too spastic to read what it says."

The jokes sorta write themselves...

Re:prompt? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864293)

Hey /b/,

My mom is hot. Seriously hot. And she's also a giant drunk. So last night, after finishing off a bottle of Bacardi 151 and starting on another, she had the bright idea to put some porn on in my living room while I was taking a shit. She was passed out with her pants off by the time I finished. I'm fed up with the drunk bitch doing this sort of shit, so I figured I'd play a joke on her.

I got a bottle of KY and started pouring it all over her. She was a sticky mess by the time I was done, but she still didn't wake up. I remembered the four pounds of pork sausage I had in the refrigerator for a barbecue I'm having later today. I started stretching my mom's snatch out. I managed to get my fist in there without rousing her. The sausage was in a plastic bag, so I cut one of the corners off so that the sausage would be "pooped" out. I inserted the bag in her pussy, and squeezed until all the sausage was in her body.

What I am about to say might shock and offend the weak of stomach. Not yet satisfied with my prank, I decided to see if I could make her give birth to four pounds of pork sausage. So I started to flick my tongue on her clit. She started moaning, gyrating her hips, and finally had an orgasm. She woke up to seeing me laughing as sausage slid out of her vagina, and my mom got scared. She said, you sick son of a bitch, what the fuck is wrong with you before she passed out again.

I need your advice, /b/. She's still passed out, and there's still a slimy coil of pork sausage on the floor. The barbecue is supposed to start in about an hour, but that was the last of my sausage and I don't have time to deal with her and get some more sausage. Do you think cooking the sausage over a hot flame would get rid of the KY flavour?

Re:prompt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864339)

soooo... why didnt you just screw her and be done with it?

<shakes head> perverts these days... they need to learn a thing or two ;)

Compatibility pack for 2007 (5, Informative)

hiroller (994761) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864089)

I can't speak for the other components of MS Office such as Outlook, Microsoft does provide a compatibility pack [microsoft.com] for word, excel and powerpoint formats which allow someone with an older version of office (XP) view the newer documents.

Re:Compatibility pack for 2007 (1)

TheABomb (180342) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864519)

But can they modify the files, or just see them?

Re:Compatibility pack for 2007 (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864561)

It gives at least Office '03 full read-write capability for '07 files (dunno about Outlook .PSTs). It will install on Office XP as well and maybe 2000, but I don't know if those versions are read-only or not.

Didn't even try Office 07! (5, Insightful)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864097)

In fairness, I have not used the trial version of Office 2007.

How, then, is this even a story? The submitter warns of the impending danger of the 07 trial, goes over his experiences with the 03 trial, and then admits he hasn't even tried the 07 trial.

A friend of mine bought a Toshiba Satellite with vista from Best Buy, and it came preinstalled with the Office 2007 trial. He used it for a week. He then uninstalled the 2007 trial via the control panel, installed his retail license of 2003 (he was not a fan of the ribbon...), and imported his files without any compatibility issues, including his entire Outlook file, contacts, email, everything.

Re:Didn't even try Office 07! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864123)

Harry marries Ginny and has three kids. Ron marries Hermione. Snape becomes headmaster. Tonks and Lupin have a child. Draco lives, gets married, has a child named Scorpius. Neville becomes herbology teacher.

The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.

Everyone lives happily ever after.

Re:Didn't even try Office 07! (0, Offtopic)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864157)

Hot! Are Harry's kids named Lily, James, and Sirius?

waaaaait.... is that bold line supposed to be the last line of the book? That's not true, scar has to be the last word, as in "Harry drove off into the sunset in hi scar."

Re:Didn't even try Office 07! (1)

Walpurgiss (723989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864249)

Scar not the last word. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/6276682.s tm [bbc.co.uk] FTA: "When asked about whether "scar" was the last word in the book as had been reported, she said: "Scar? It was so for ages, and now it's not. Scar is quite near the end, but it's not the last word.""

Re:Didn't even try Office 07! (1)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864389)

Yes, but does Trinity die at the end?

Re:Didn't even try Office 07! (0, Troll)

Smight (1099639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864149)

By "via the control panel" did you really mean "via megahaxin' the registry and using voodoo magics"?

It's also not hard to tell (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864209)

I'll give people some credit in the past as a Word 97 file and an Word 2003 file are both .DOC just with some different contents. However Office 2007's format is .DOCX, and it'll still save DOC just fine. So you can choose if you want the backward compatible version or the new version, and it is easy to know what you chose. Currently we have a some Office 2007 at work but mostly Office 2003. No problems thus far, as the 2007 people know to keep using the old formats and everyone is happy.

Not easy. Re:It's also not hard to tell (2, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864319)

So you can choose if you want the backward compatible version or the new version, and it is easy to know what you chose. Currently we have a some Office 2007 at work but mostly Office 2003. No problems thus far, as the 2007 people know to keep using the old formats and everyone is happy.

The menu for types is confusing and makes interchange a PITA. There are three options, "default", "Office97-2003" [ask-leo.com] and "other". If this version is like all of the rest, conversion is one way - in but not out - and 97-2003 will be a mess. The other formats [ask-leo.com] are way too confusing for the average user with multiple types defined for the same version of word processor name. Once you get past all of that, you have Vista's default behavior of hiding file extensions to keep you from knowing which file is what.

All of this confusion and complexity has one aim: to make sure people buy a new M$ word processor every few years. The file formats change around to keep other programs from being able to use them. The new formats themselves are used to force others to buy Word. This routine has worked several times.

The only real question is how many times can M$ pull the old switcheroo before people revolt. It's such a transparent rip off.

Re:Not easy. Re:It's also not hard to tell (1)

waveguide (166484) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864569)


The Save As menu choices are

Word Document
Word Template
Word 97-2003 Document
Find Add-ins for other file formats...
Other Formats

If you can't figure this out you need to put the computer back in the box and send it back.

kdawson. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864379)

Worst. Editor. Ever.

Oh look! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864607)

A Slashdot "editor" modding down posts critical of themselves again. How cute.

The entire "story" is FUD (5, Informative)

sid0 (1062444) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864437)

Also, IIRC Outlook 2003 has a downgrader for .pst to the earlier versions, in the File menu.

Slashdot: Your source of daily anti-Microsoft FUD. I'm going to get modded down as troll/flamebait for this and probably lose my karma bonus, but I've noticed kdawson is the worst. Sorry to call you out.

Re:The entire "story" is FUD (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864671)

Only if you know it was there and remembered to use it before your trail expired.

Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864547)

The explanation is obvious. Office 2007 is just office 2003 with a tie. And this guy actually works for MS, but wants to stay anonymous.

You see? Everything can make sense if you try hard enough.

This whole story is FUD. (4, Insightful)

x_MeRLiN_x (935994) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864113)

I encountered no difficulties when switching from the Office 2007 trial to OpenOffice.org. It's funny, OpenOffice.org in no way supports the 2007 file format. What happens with Outlook I'm not sure, but the rest of the Office suite doesn't convert any files unless you choose to. It's really not hard to select 'Save in Office 97-2003 format' from a drop down menu on the save dialogue.

WTF? (0, Offtopic)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864343)

>>What happens with Outlook I'm not sure

The story was basically about the difficulties I had with Outlook. So how can you say the whole story is "FUD" while admitting that you don't know what happens with Outlook?

Re:WTF? (1)

x_MeRLiN_x (935994) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864445)

Firstly, look at the title of the story. Secondly, you say you have no experience of Office 2007 at all; this fact makes me wonder why the story was published in the first place.

Re:This whole story is FUD. (2, Informative)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864391)

It's really not hard to select 'Save in Office 97-2003 format' from a drop down menu on the save dialogue.

You have the 'commercial' version of Office. One of the nasty surprises for many people I know who picked up the cheaper student/teacher version is it only saves in the Office 2007 format. The older format save is disabled.

Re:This whole story is FUD. (1)

x_MeRLiN_x (935994) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864419)

Nope. That was trial I downloaded.

Re:This whole story is FUD. (5, Informative)

adonoman (624929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864471)

Ummm... no.

I have the home/student version and I can click on the funny round office button -> Save as -> Word 97-2003 document. Plus it's trivial to go into options and set the default save format to the old style.

It is FUD... and it isn't (1)

RedBear (207369) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864557)

While it sounds like the article doesn't talk specifically about Office 2007, I can say from first hand experience that Microsoft hasn't really changed their ways since the Office 2003 trial. I had a client a couple of months back who downloaded and installed the Office 2007 try-before-you-buy trial and installed it on his system which already had Office 2000 installed. Luckily, if we can use that word here, he had already purchased and switched over to Outlook 2007, so his mail was fine, but Office 2007 totally screwed up his install of Office 2000. Most of the older components wouldn't run and all the files he worked on were converted to new formats by Office 2007. Anyways, it caused a whole host of problems for him, interrupting his business.

What's even better is that he was fine with the new software and so we actually tried to register it for him on two separate occasions, and we failed both times with some idiotic error about a shipping method... for a downloaded product. How stupid is that? Finally we gave up and I was able to uninstall every version of Office (he also had some 2003 components for some reason) and reinstalled Office 2000 from a disk I had, in the process weaning him off of using Publisher ever again, since his Publisher files were no longer readable by any version of Publisher except the new version that had messed with the file. Thanks, Microsoft.

Yeah, he was definitely not the most computer literate person, but when I trial application goes around changing old files and saving new files in a format that can't be read by any older version of the software, you can't entirely blame that on the user. Everyone should be warned to backup their files before installing any Microsoft trial software. If he'd wanted to return to a previous version of Outlook I honestly don't have a clue what I would have done. It probably would have been easier to switch him over to Thunderbird.

Re:This whole story is FUD. (1)

imemyself (757318) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864589)

OpenOffice.org in no way supports the 2007 file format

Wrong, Novell's free version of OpenOffice for Windows includes OpenXML plugins (though I honestly couldn't tell you how well they work). I would assume that the version of OOo they have in SuSE supports OpenXML as well, though I could be wrong. The latest versions of NeoOffice for OS X also support OpenXML.

VMWare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864115)

Nuff said.

If you use Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864119)

You get what you deserve.

I have no sympathy. I am not suprised. It's not as if nobody knows Microsoft are unredeemably crooked pedlers of defective rubbish. Maybe eventually, when you have been punched in the face, kicked and abused enough, maybe then you will learn.

txt? (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864121)

Hey walterbyrd (same one from GL?) what about doing *everything as plain ASCII txt ?

Re:txt? (1)

level_headed_midwest (888889) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864169)

But then what will the secretaries do for a pastime since they can't use 10 different fonts like MS Comic Sans and insert two dozen pieces of clip art into a simple one-sentence notice?

Re:txt? (0, Offtopic)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864361)

The problem was not with *my* computer, it was my brother-in-law's computer. Like most people, my brother-in-law is not all that sophisticated about computers.

No way in hell would I ever install msft "trialware."

Re:txt? (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864483)

Yes, I am aware of this situation - my own family is quite similar in some cases (grrr...). So I decided to take advantage of the relative lack of sophistication (no pun intended) and set all the send and recv default to plain txt and ask for other images/file types. Er, basically just so I could get some sleep.

have not used (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864133)

In fairness, I have not used the trial version of Office-2007.

If you save files as "Word 97-2003 Document (*.doc)" (or whatever, depending on application) they are backwards compatible. If you save files as "Word Document (*.docx)" they are not, but you can get a plugin for Office 2003 to read them.

I'm sure the average user will not realize they need to do this, but if you know to look for it it's right there.

What? (4, Insightful)

oddman (204968) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864139)

The article doesn't say anything regarding the behavior of Office 2007 when installed on a machine with an older version of Office. It's a bare-bones commentary on OEM installations of trials of Office 2007. There is absolutely no indication that the problems encountered by the submitter will come up again.

So, this scare-tactic post amounts to someone asserting that something bad happened in the past, and might, possibly, maybe, could happen in the future.

Wow, thanks for the information, I never would have thought of that on my own.

(Furthermore, does any company that uses trial-ware want you to do anything besides buy the software? Game companies use demos all of the time, AND THEY DON"T WANT YOU TO CONSIDER BUYING THE GAME TO BE OPTIONAL EITHER. But, because this is and MS story on Slashdot, we just have to bash them for every perfectly normal thing that they do.)

Pathetic.

Re:What? (2)

Septje (953026) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864171)

Absolutely. Its not Microsofts fault at all in this case. If you uninstall it, and you have docs in the DOCX format, you instal the Office 2007 Compatibility pack which is freely available on their website. Sheesh people. Stop being so damn lazy.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864675)

Sheesh people. Stop being so damn lazy.
And then people go and still say Linux is too hard for the common user?

Re:What? (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864205)

My Demo of Diablo II does not prevent me from using my copy of Diablo I though. The bigger problem I see here is with a trial upgrade that prevents going back to the original. This should in theory, be fixable by uninstalling/reinstalling though. As long as you both A) are able to do this, and B) Don't end up with all you're files automatically converted to the new format (both of which happened to the OP). Doesn't look like this will be a problem this time around though, as long as you actually have the original install disk and product key of Office.

(I have incidentally, seen itunes convert an entire My Music folder into m4a though, which kept me from using my mp3 player with my mother's comp, as I had been doing up until that point).

Re:What? (0, Flamebait)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864405)

>>There is absolutely no indication that the problems encountered by the submitter will come up again.

It's msft's MO. I believe that msft did the same thing with the upgrade from NT to 2000.

Here is the moral of story: when my brother-in-law installed the trial version of office-2003, it wrecked his computer. He could not access his email. He could not re-install office-2000 - we tried installing over office - it wouldn't work. We also tried removing the trial, still wouldn't work. And we could not install two versions of office. We tried like all hell to re-install office-2000, we couldn't do it.

It's something you might want to think about before you install any msft "trial" software, wouldn't you agree?

Been there, watched that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864143)

We had the much same experience where I was working when Office 98 came out. Somebody brought in Office 98 installation media from home and installed it on their computer. Once the cool new features had been seen by others, the media was passed around. It was entertaining to watch the windoze guys scramble around for a few days trying to figure out where all the incompatible versions of important documents were coming from. Not to mention the stern lectures from management about software licensing, viruses, etc. And this was at one of the big outsourcing vendors, too. I won't say which one this episode happened at, but I've seen similar things at each of CSC, EDS, IBM, and AA (now Acenture).

Microsoft (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864159)

Microsoft = very small and placid penis

Excellent news. (0, Troll)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864181)

IT excellent the way Microsoft are doing a great job promoting reasons to switch to Linux.

Clearly their remaining users are all windows fanboys who will put up with absolutely anything and then come back for more. So Microsoft, how about using that for some really intrusive stuff like putting advertising functionality directly in the kernel or add even more snooping software?
Oh its all ready gone live on windows update you say...

Ever hear of backups? (2, Insightful)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864183)

Ever hear of backups? You know...the thing you do to data before installing a new piece of software? Yeah Outlook 2003 changes the .pst file, but so what? If you took the extra few seconds to copy it before installing 2003 you wouldn't have this problem now, would you? BTW a .pst file is something you ought to be backing up ANYWAY unless you really don't need to read those saved e-mails again. Disk failure, anyone?
I also have both Outlook 2000 and 2003 clients in an Exchange environment and there is no problem with individual users using either version. The only real source of grief are occasional MINOR formatting hiccups when files are opened with different versions and documents that reference a database for merging purposes, but these are merely annoyances, not critical failures.

Re:Ever hear of backups? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864331)

The average user will not be able to find their Outlook or Outlook Express files, much less back them up.

Re:Ever hear of backups? (1)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864373)

The average user will not be able to find their Outlook or Outlook Express files, much less back them up.
Hmmmm...'File'...'Import and Export'...'Export to a File'

If you can configure an e-mail account, you can figure out how to do that.

Re:Ever hear of backups? (3, Insightful)

TClevenger (252206) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864429)

Okay, so you back up your PST, do the upgrade, Outlook converts the PST and then you download more mail into the PST. What good did that backup do you again?

"I would touch it with a ten foot pole." (3, Funny)

DodgeRules (854165) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864195)

Well, maybe YOU would touch it with a ten foot pole, but I surely wouldn't!

Re:"I would touch it with a ten foot pole." (2, Funny)

robo_mojo (997193) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864277)

I could care less what you do with your ten foot pole!

Re:"I would touch it with a ten foot pole." (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864583)

I could care less what you do with your ten foot pole!
Unless he tries to insert it in the lower part of your back. Well, I would care anyway ;-)

Re:"I would touch it with a ten foot pole." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864281)

Much like someone saying "I could care less about xyz."
So, just how much less could they care? Apparently quite a bit.
The correct phrase is "I couldn't care less."

--Grammar Nazi

Don't "upgrade" without a motivation (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864197)

I thought the lessons were generally accepted by this time and for the most part, I think they are. When Windows XP came out, people switched over fairly quickly, but business was a bit slower to migrate. Vista gets released and I have yet to see a business site actually migrate over though I have witnessed a few individuals giving Vista a try... some going back to XP; some still trying to learn Vista's quirks. But so far, there's no business case for rolling out Vista.

The same goes for rolling out Office 2007. I don't see a business case for it. I have known one business to start migrating over to Office 2007 because there is some collaboration tool they've just *got* to have. I think it's a mistake. But then again, this is a decision made by the same IT "MCSE" leadership that couldn't manage to get Exchange 2003 successfully installed and "lost" their Blackberry server CDs... (As if they couldn't download the software from RIM's site.)

If there is a business case for Office 2007 or for Vista, I'd be really happy to hear it. But for the moment, I see no functions or features that we need to get our work done or that could help us get it done any better.

Re:Don't "upgrade" without a motivation (1)

gooman (709147) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864529)

If there is a business case for Office 2007 or for Vista, I'd be really happy to hear it.

Because Bill and Steve would like you to. What more reason do you need?

We just got Office 2007 at my company.. (1)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864571)

in the accounting department. 5 new Dells with XP-Pro and Office 2007 installed. The IT guy who set them up made sure the default was set to save files in Office 97-2003 mode. It's just the old forced upgrade trick from MS, as usual. I'm in Engineering where we're still using Office 2000. No business case for "upgrading" that I can see.

Scare Tactics (5, Insightful)

Dukaso (1128185) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864201)

Speculation is a great thing, but it quickly loses its luster when stated as fact. The little disclaimer you stuck on the bottom should be right under the headline.

Anyone with custom macros... watch out (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864215)

The company I work for provides custom document templates for presenting images and information, and we've started getting calls from people who previously had no problem with the templates, but decided (for whatever dumb reason) to just "upgrade" to Office 2007 (after all, the number 2007 is bigger than 2003). Now they're saying the templates no longer work in 2007.

At first we thought we would have to completely redo them for this new release, but it turns out that it's just part of Microsoft's attempt to increase "security", by automatically blocking all macros (even if the user previously allowed macros in an earlier version) and apparently not even giving you a notice that they were blocked. The workarounds are simple enough, but I foresee much more time spent on tech support fixing these dumb non-issues.

Yay for productivity!

FUD. (2, Informative)

Txiasaeia (581598) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864221)

Scared of the new Office 2007 formats? Afraid that if you save a document in Word 2007, you won't be able to open it in Word XP, 2000, or 2003? Here you go. [microsoft.com]

This entire "article" is FUD. Say what you will about Microsoft formats, but so long as you're using Word, Excel, or Powerpoint (i.e. not Outlook), there's nothing to worry about. And for the record, I've tried importing the mail from an Outlook 2007 PST file in Outlook 2003, and it works perfectly fine. There's also apparently workarounds for importing 2007 PST files into earlier versions of Outlook - including 2003 into XP, 2000, and so forth - as described here [microsoft.com] .

(i.e. not Outlook), (-1, Redundant)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864417)

So, if you're using Outlook, you do have something to worry about?

BTW: the story was about my difficulties with Outlook. So, it's not exactly FUD, now is it?

Isn't this just old news (0, Flamebait)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864239)

Microsoft allows programs to install into any directory they want to and modify just about any file. There is no such thing as root access either because every program has it.

Also M$ uses .dlls which any program can change and result in causing programs to crash.

Finally you have the registry which is deliberately made complex so the user can't figure out what the last program they ran put onto their computer.

I'd say these are just flaws with Windows and not really flaws with new Microsoft software.

Re:Isn't this just old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864299)

Microsoft allows programs to install into any directory they want to and modify just about any file. There is no such thing as root access either because every program has it.

Programs don't have root access, users do. If you install programs while logged in as an admin, then yes, the install program you're running has admin access. Once it is installed, and you run the program as a regular user, the program only has user access.

Also M$ uses .dlls which any program can change and result in causing programs to crash.

You have no clue what you are talking about... Dlls are regular files, and regular file permissions apply. Typically, only admin can read/write the .dll, and regular users can only read. So, any program can NOT change the .dlls.

Finally you have the registry which is deliberately made complex so the user can't figure out what the last program they ran put onto their computer.

The registry is complex because it is a big operating system, with many, many subsystems. The fact that YOU can't figure it out doesn't mean that other people can't. There are programs to track changes made to the registry. Maybe you want to get one.

Re:Isn't this just old news (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864325)

i'd say you're just an incompetent. probably a linux fanboi too.
 
you have been owned, bitch.

full of lies and half-truths (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864257)

I'm not a fan of microsoft, but I criticize them for things that are actually true. Lets go though your blather.

Office-2003 installed over his Office-2000. His Outlook-2000 email was reformatted to the new-and-improved Outlook-2003. And Outlook-2003 format is incompatible with everything except Outlook-2003.

Not true. Outlook 2003 can use the exact same .pst file format as outlook 2000 (the new 2003 .pst format is unreadable by outlook 2000). But if you have an existing .pst file, outlook 2003 will not convert it to the new 2003 format. In fact, outlook cannot convert a .pst file to the new format, which is pretty annoying. You need to create a new .pst file, then import your old email.

Of course, I could not fully remove the "trial" version of Office-2003. Once Office-2003 has been installed, it can not overwritten with an earlier version of Office. Also, you cannot remove Office-2003 and re-install Office-2000, unless you know how to hack the registry.

Not true at all. Just go to add/remove programs and uninstall your trial software, then reinstall your old software. If you can't uninstall software, then your PC is very messed up, which has nothing to do with outlook.

And you can not easily install Office-2000 and Office-2003 on the same PC.

Also not true. You cannot have multiple versions of outlook on the same PC, but the rest of office is easy - just install into a different directory. The default for office 2003 installs is to remove office 2000, but you have an easy choice during installation to keep your existing software and install 2003 to a new directory.

The reason for multiple versions of outlook is that the exchange connectivity is very different in outlook, and you can't have both .dlls installed at the same time.

Re:full of lies and half-truths (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864307)

I think you pretty well destroyed this submission. Good job.

Let me set some issues straight (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864539)

>But if you have an existing .pst file, outlook 2003 will not convert it to the new 2003 format.

When my brother-in-law's trial period was over, his .pst file was in an outlook-2003 format. That much I can tell you for sure. I believe both his old messages, and new messages, were in the 2003 format. Care to tell me how that happend? Maybe he allowed when he should have canceled, or something?

> Not true at all. Just go to add/remove programs and uninstall your trial software, then reinstall your old software.

Oh, it removes the trial software. But when you try to reinstall the old software, it won't let you. It detects a newer version, even though the newer version been technically removed. Symantec does the same thing. BTW: I can you from a *lot* of experience that msft's "add/remove software" is not worth crap. This is one of the reasons that registries get gunked up over time. Also, this sort of thing is a fairly common occurance.

> And you can not easily install Office-2000 and Office-2003 on the same PC.

As I recall, the install would not let us do that. Maybe if the disk had been partitioned, or something. We were trying to install office-2000, on XP-home, if that matters.

> You cannot have multiple versions of outlook on the same PC

Well, there you go. The problem was with Outlook.

> The reason for multiple versions of outlook is that the exchange connectivity is very different in outlook, and you can't have both .dlls installed at the same time.

Whatever the reason, it wrecked his computer to the point that I had to re-format his HDD.

You do what you want. But, after my experience, I can assure you that I have no intention of every installing any msft "trail" software on my PC. I warn as many people as can about this. Msft is not the only company that plays this game. I don't use Symantec anymore either.

You can think whatever you want about my intentions. Say I'm trying to spread FUD, or whatever. But, I promise you, the story is true. And I don't want it to happen to others.

bunch of crap (1)

goofballs (585077) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864269)

dude, this is a bunch of crap- i have office 2007, and it respects old formats. it won't write over it w/ the newer format unless you specifically tell it to.

Forced Upgrade (2, Informative)

tiny69 (34486) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864275)

Forced upgrades to new versions of MS Office is a normal experience in a large company. Typical senerio:

One week after a new version of MS Office is release, someone in the company gets a new computer. Unless the company has a strict policy that controls all incoming computer hardware and makes sures that said hardware is reinstalled with a standard baseline image, the company is about to go through a forced upgrage. The new computer is going to have the latest version of MS Office installed. Since it's a new computer, someone important (management) is getting said computer. The first thing the user does is open some important Excel spreadsheet or Access database that is has been deemed critical to day-to-day operations. Because it's a new version of MS Office, the user is asked if they'd like to upgrade the format that the file is formated/saved in. Of course the user will click "OK". Now, this user is the only person that can open and edit this critical file. The next thing the user does after getting a new version of MS Office is create some Word document. As soon as the user saves this document, they email it to everyone in the company. Complaints about not being able to open this document flood the HelpDesk as soon as the user hit the Send button. Instead of complaining about how the latest version of MS Office was allowed into the company without authorization, everyone complains that "so and so has the latest version of MS Office. Why don't I have the latest version of MS Office?" And the company has to shell out $LARGE_SUM to bring everyone up-to-date with the latest version of MS Office one week after it's released.

Sinse, repeat.... has it really only been 4 years since that last forced upgrage of MS Office?

It would seem fair to expect MS to be true to form (1)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864297)

If they've done this before with other trial software, why give them another opportunity to pull their tricks again. "Once burned, twice shy" is not an entirely bad philosophy. I wouldn't expect Snow White to readily eat another apple.

Get what you pay for (0, Offtopic)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864303)

I'm using the free version of Microsoft Office Accounting - they made it free in order to muscle into QuickBooks market (the free version is equivalent to the 90$ version of quickbooks).

Problems so far:

It depends on a version of SQL server it installs as a service (why does it have to run as soon as I power on the machine?) which sometimes (for no reason) balloons up to over a gigabyte of ram use. Also SQL didn't install properly the first time because it refuses to install in a compressed directory - well as easily as they could test that the directory is compressed, they could have made their subdirectory uncompressed. After all they're installing it as a fucking service and that takes admin access.

It has fucking AVERTISEMENTS running in the main window the time. Not only is there no way to turn them off or to rearrange the window so it doesn't take up 100% of the screen real estate, but the system stops for a few minutes retrying on the fucking ADVERTS every time my internet connection goes down. That's right, you can't do any accounting for fucking minutes because their fucking advertisement is more important!

Really, this all seems like a great reason to pay $200 for a good version of Quickbooks. If the free Office Accounting is bad, is there any reason to believe that the other one, say DOESN'T have adverts? Or that it lets you use your screen for things other than a huge menue designed to force you to watch those averts?

Bollocks (1)

Robowally (649265) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864323)

More MS-haters bollocks. You can save to old version formats if you want to. Simple. That aside, Office 2007 is by far the best office so far. It is a very slick set of apps that blows Office 2003 and Open Office out of the water. Gosh, I am even considering writing a thesis on it!

don't buy it anway, its crapware (1, Interesting)

myc (105406) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864375)

I bought a copy of Office 2007 for $20 bucks (our campus has a volume license) to try it out. It is without a doubt the worst piece of crapware I have ever had the misfortune to try, not even taking into account file compatibility issues. The very worst bit is that there is no way for you to customize the ribbons unless you learn how to code XML. If you look up online help for the ribbon, Microsoft explicitly states this. One of the things I always liked about earlier versions of Office is the ability to customize the toolbars to optimize your own personal workflow; you add buttons you use more, and take away ones you don't. Now with Office 2007 you are pretty much stuck with what they decide are the "key" tools. Some functions are hidden in the contextual menu, which is the ONLY place they are accessible. I am switching back to Office 2003, which is actually pretty decent.

open office (2, Interesting)

Cokeisbomb (1001675) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864543)

I have used Office 2007 some, and found that I benefited from the improvements (things like more than 3 ways to sort in excel), but what I really noticed is when I compared it to my trial of OpenOffice. It was unbelievable how many little shortcuts that make using Excel so much easier didn't exist in OpenOffice. Just the different ways to handle copy/pastes and functions, I felt that using Openoffice was a much more arduous task than using Excel. I also noticed that the performance was much worse using Openoffice than Excel on a windows machine, the performance was a little better between windows and linux (for OOo) but still not as good as Excel 2003 in Windows. Am I the only person who has seen this? Or is there a larger issue at stake? I've seen how much every business uses Excel, and feel that if they can't solve these little problems, that OpenOffice will never have a chance to steal significant market share from MSFT

Re:don't buy it anway, its crapware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864677)

And yet people love Apple. Go figure.

Are we all really serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19864411)

I've been an avid 'slahdotter' for awhile now, and this just took me for a spell of sorts. I've never created an account or even commented once. By no means am I an avid Microsoft Fanboy, or an Apple Fanboy, or even a Linux Fanboy, even though I tend to lean more towards Linux and opensource, I completely enjoy Microsoft Office and have since Office 97, when I personally started using it. This is a personal biased by no means is it helping or doing any good as a story, and as the flame wars are already running on this little comment board, and probably will so after my comment it doesn't really matter. Arguing on the internet is like beating a retard in a footrace, no matter what you're still a loser. That being said, this consumer doesn't seem technically savvy, and by his great justification and backing seems to show a plethora of knowledge about Micro$oft Office, and by plethora I mean little to none at all. By a matter of a few options can you import export and save data in older non-traditional (non-new) formats and on older formats as was stated prior are able to import from newer versions. I think this story should be /j #cut.

More to the point, why upgrade? (2, Insightful)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864459)

I use 2002 at work and 2003 on all my home/school machines. I can't for the life of me imagine a scenario where Office has or should be changed dramatically enough requiring an upgrade to 2007. I'm assuming that a few years out there will still be a student version of Office for about $100 where you get to install it on any 3 machines simultaneously. If not, and I doubt it, given the big presence Office has in college bookstores, which is the only reason now to specifically replace a machine or buy a new one, I'll just put on whatever Open Office is current and point it to store in Office 2002/3 formats. If the latest formats are an absolute requirement because of some dumbass teacher then I assume the school will provide a discounted version to support it. Just because Redmond thinks they can force you to upgrade, there aren't too many circumstances where they can.

Most people don't focus on the issues. (1, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864537)

Wow!!! It's shocking to read the comments above. There is no sympathy whatsoever for the average user, who has little technical knowledge, or for companies with IT departments that get caught in the abuse. Quote: "I have no sympathy. [slashdot.org] ... It's not as if nobody knows Microsoft are unredeemably crooked peddlers of defective rubbish." I think people with no technical knowledge don't know this.

The article linked in the Slashdot article mentions Microsoft's apparent motivation: "Previous editions of Office have shipped below target, with just 15 percent of PCs running Office 2003 two years after that suite shipped, instead of Microsoft's stated goal for two thirds of PCs to be running Office 2003 by 2005."

There are problems: "Anyone with custom macros... watch out [slashdot.org] "

This Slashdot comment is typical: "This entire "article" is FUD. [slashdot.org] ... so long as you're using Word, Excel, or Powerpoint (i.e. not Outlook), there's nothing to worry about." The words "not Outlook" admit an exception. That comment links to a Microsoft article that shows how to convert the new Outlook format to the old. But most users won't know how to find the Microsoft article.

The issue is that people with insufficient technical knowledge who buy new computers may not find any option other than paying for another version of Microsoft Office. That is abusive. Microsoft provides big companies methods they may or may not know about, but apparently tries to dominate most users with sneaky methods.

At the time I am writing this, only this comment shows an understanding of the issue: Forced Upgrade [slashdot.org] : "Forced upgrades to new versions of MS Office is a normal experience in a large company."

Thare are several social issues here:

1) Slashdot comments often take the position, "If you don't know as much as I do, then I have no sympathy for you." It's macho posturing.

2) Slashdot comments often come from a quirky viewpoint: "I will try to find an interpretation of what you said that could possibly be wrong, ignore any interpretations that are correct, and pretend that there could be no correct interpretations."

3) People are often not able to protect themselves from abuse, especially when abusers exploit their weaknesses.

4) Not only are people often not able to protect themselves from abuse, a significant percentage of people are themselves abusers. The weaker abusers use the actions of the more powerful abusers as a shield.

5) Microsoft managers apparently feel they are unable to compete honestly. The apparently feel that, without tricks, they cannot compete. Apparently they don't know how to compete by making a good product, or for some reason they cannot make a good product. Possibly inside Microsoft making a good product is politically impossible.

6) Many people depend on the income from the problems Microsoft creates. Those who feel they have no other way of making a living often attack anything negative about Microsoft, apparently because they see negative information about Microsoft as potentially lowering their income, which is probably true.

It's True! (1)

SinGunner (911891) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864585)

I "tried" 2007 from a torrent site when I got my new computer and typed up my resume in it. I then sent the resume to a friend to look over after I'd already been sending it out to a lot of companies. I must have looked like a complete idiot to be sending out a .doc file that won't open in anything but Word 2007. Changed how I saved it and got a job right away.

Also, part of my profession is being extremely literate in Word, and they changed so damn much that my years of daily usage now leave me fumbling about. Figuring out where all my menus went is a colossal pain. There were plenty of things worth updating in Word, but the user interface hasn't significantly changed for the last 10 years. Who decided this was a good idea?

Re:It's True! (1)

SpiralSpirit (874918) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864631)

1) So you had to change the format to the 2003 style. I get it. It's a hassle , but now its second nature. I do it because 2) Even though it me a whole hour to figure out where everything was in word, I find that I can now do things faster. I like the look as well as the groupings of the new UI. To complain that you are "extremely literate in word" but couldn't figure out the UI in a day or two sounds like you didn't even try.

Re:It's True! (2, Informative)

sid0 (1062444) | more than 7 years ago | (#19864655)

The entire Office UI team, that's who. Ever seen that Customer Experience Improvement Program that you probably disable? Well, they collected and analysed data, and found that people simply weren't discovering Office features. The Ribbon is a good way to expose these features for everyone. If you take the time to learn it and then customise it, you may easily change your opinion.

If you're having difficulty locating commands, check the Office website http://office.microsoft.com/ [microsoft.com] for an interactive demonstration: choose the Office 2003 command, and it will show you how to get to it 2007.
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